Month: July 2011

The Girls Are Alright

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Everybody’s coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.*

This weekend is Dave’s 20 year high school reunion. And we’re going. He really wants to. He’s been planning it for months. Now, there are two things you should know. 1) I’ve never met any of his former classmates and 2) when he went to his last reunion, he was married to someone else. You’d think that would have been enough to stir up all of my competitive drives, to get my ass in gear, to get thin and beautiful. It wasn’t. Oh, I thought it would be. But here I am, in the same pants I was wearing six months ago. Nevertheless, I am going. And while I’ve tried to exude nothing but positivity about the whole event, Dave has expressed some concern about my willingness to go.

“Did you see the menu for the restaurant we’re eating at on Friday? They have wings,” he told me. As if it would give me a purpose for going.

I imagined him shaking a giant buffalo wing in front of me and calling, “Here Fatty Fatty! Come on, Fatty!”

“So what are you expecting the reunion to be like? Who do you hope to see?” I deflected.

“Oh, I don’t know. You know, I was a pretty big nerd in high school. I wasn’t popular at all.”

“Yeah, well…you’ll probably see one of those girls you had a crush on back in the day. She’ll decide she likes the way you look now and invite you for a quickie in the bathroom and you’ll be like, ‘Let’s go. My wife’s over there eating wings. She’ll never know I’m gone.'”

He laughed.

“That was supposed to be appalling, not funny.”

I don’t want to be an embarrassment. I’m feeling a whole lot insecure. And that’s worse than feeling fat. The truth is, I’ve been struggling and feeling inadequate in every possible way for a while now. My weight is the scapegoat as it’s my most obvious flaw. And that’s a mouthful of truth that can only be swallowed with the help of a doughnut and a Diet Coke. Here’s to postpartum depression!

I’m going to try and boost my confidence with an eyebrow wax today. Perhaps I’ll get my wedding ring cleaned so it’ll be all sparkly and blinding thereby making me look mysterious and potentially thinner in it’s shadows. And I’ll wear something that accentuates my boobs. I would love to weigh less by dinnertime, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to lose 50 pounds in one day. However, I’ve been learning about hypnosis on YouTube and I think I can convince everyone I look good with my mind. My ring or my boobs can double as eye-fixation objects. If anyone thinks it’s weird that I’m inviting them to look into my cleavage and enter the garden of relaxation, I can blame it on the margaritas! Okay. Okay. This is working. I have a plan. I can do this! I CAN DO THIS! Right? Anyway, it’ll be fun to get a glimpse of Dave’s high school experience. It’s not every day you get an invitation to peek into someone’s past. Maybe, for one weekend, it doesn’t have to be about me. Maybe.

*From Grosse Point Blank

Flat Is Where It’s At

Oh, the places our Flat Grimmetts have been! In just seven weeks, our Flat alter egos have visited 23% of the U.S.

Flat Grimmett Map, Week 7 of the Project

12 states down, 38 to go! Before summer ends! When is summer “officially” over? Maybe what we meant to say is before Indian Summer ends. Yes, that. Deadline problem solved. See? We’ll make it! With a little help from our friends! Who knew we had so many? And really, we do. Have you visited the Flat Grimmett Family Project Facebook page? Pretty much every host has checked in there. And you can’t read that page without smiling. Just go ahead and try. But! There is more. From blog posts to snail mail, our host families have been sharing with us in a variety of creative ways.

Flat Lucy came home with her very own book chronicling her visit to Oklahoma!

Lucy's Oklahoma book Center of the Universe

Did you know the dirt there is red?

Oklahoma soil

Do you know why? (We do.)

Flat Julia brought back with her the coolest flash drive ever with a PDF presentation of her California trip.

Is that awesome or what?

We began this project hoping to learn more about the U.S. and wow! We have. But we never would have guessed how meaningful, how personal the whole experience would be. Our host families have been so generous with their time and with themselves. They’ve been taking our flat people to their favorite places and showing us why they love where they live and what makes it special. I can’t think of a better way to see the country than through the eyes of the families who live there. And while it’s great to learn that Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania, it’s even better to know that it’s home to a red-haired girl named Kylie and a boy named Nick who absolutely loves trains. We are so very grateful. And at times, surprised. Look at what showed up on our doorstep one Tuesday.

Look what we got!

It came from California and the anticipation it inspired rivaled Christmas morning.

Open it!

Ripping into the box

It was filled with treats like salt water taffy, sand, shells, a beautiful set of books and more. The kids were just out of their minds over the whole thing.

Salt Water Taffy!

Shells!

Books!

Dessert Maker!

Once the entire box was unpacked, Julia sat among the bounty and shouted, “THIS IS INCREDIBLE!” Her eyes were wide and she was touching everything. “So Mom, someone just decided to send us a bunch of goodies because???? Just because? Mom, it’s just…wow! This is the best day ever!” She sat for some time looking around, soaking it all in and I understood how she was feeling. It’s the way I felt when the same kind person gifted me with Adobe Photoshop last year.

Nicole, you make us feel like an Oprah audience member at one of her “Favorite Things” episodes. Thank you! We didn’t expect it, but we truly appreciate it.

The big girls got busy right away making and eating some chill treats.

Chill Treats!

And Phoebe discovered the recorder. Now, I don’t know how to tell you this without bragging, so I’m not even going to try and be diplomatic. I’m just gonna lay it on you. My baby girl is gifted! She can PLAY that recorder. She’s only ten months old, yo! Ten month olds, generally, CANNOT do that!

I know, right? You’re impressed! Except for you. You know who you are. And you know that I know who you are. (I’m doing the finger pointing “I’ve got my eyes on you” move right now.)

The Flat Grimmett Family Project has been incredible so far. Still, we have a long way to go. If you’d like to help out, we’re looking for hosts in the following states: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID, IN, IA, ME, MA, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, RI, SD, TN, UT, VT, WI, and WY.

You can use the Contact Us tab on the Flat Grimmett Family Project Facebook page to let us know you’re interested! We’ll send you a confirmation e-mail and add you to our “send to” list. Then, we’ll let you know who is coming your way and when. Your Flat Grimmett will come with a postage paid envelope so you can easily return them. You can share about your Flat Grimmett adventures on the Facebook page or via e-mail, so it won’t cost you anything but a little time.

(Oh, and by the way, Flat Leslie seems to be missing. If you happen to bump into her somewhere out there, send her home, please. This isn’t nearly as fun if Flat Leslie can’t compete with Flat Dave for the majority of the map.)

Pure Imagination

Last night at bedtime, Lucy was a shimmery purple dog named Sparkle who happened to also be a doctor. She not only gave birth to, but assisted in the delivery of a litter of six worm babies. After she nursed them, she asked if they could sleep with me, preferably between my “mommy milks” where they would be warm. I’ve become accustomed to accommodating odd requests like this –

(Once, she called me to the bathroom. She was naked from the waist down with toilet paper stuck between her cheeks. She pointed her bum at me and asked, “Will you pull Santa Claus out of the chimney? He’s stuck.”

I paused. I must have looked confused because Julia chimed in, “She needs help wiping her butt.”

“Okay.”

“You know, the toilet paper is Santa…”

“Uh huh.”

“…the chimney is….”

“I got it, Jules.”

“…her butt.”)

– so, I gently took her invisible worm babies – my grandbabies – tucked them in my cleavage and kissed Dr. Dog goodnight.

This morning, as I made my way to the shower, Lucy sat up and called out from her bed, “Mom! Mom! Don’t forget the worm babies! You better get them out before you take a shower! They’ll drown!!!”

I walked into the bedroom and laid the six worm babies on the pillow next to her. “There you go, Sparkle.”

“Thanks, Mom. But I’m not Sparkle. I’m Faneena. And you know what? I can fly! Because my heart is fire! I have a white dog, too. He has big ears and he can burp louder than anyone in the world!!!”

I’m not sure what Lucy will do when she grows up. (When I just asked her, she said she’d like to be an ant picker.) But with an imagination like that, the kid could change the world. Or at least make it a whole lot more entertaining.

The only reason I can remember all seven of the deadly sins is because I like Brad Pitt.

I’ve been neglecting the internet. You know how people say, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Well, there you go. I’ve been sort of miserable, so I decided to quarantine my wretched thoughts. But today, I woke up in a this-is-the-day kind of mood which has given me the courage to share the cause of all my troubles: LACK OF AIR CONDITIONING. Mine is broken and, as you likely know, it’s been hot in here, Nelly. It costs money to fix air conditioning. Sometimes, lots of it. And payday comes but twice a month, my loves. Even less when you live like Sonny and Cher (i.e. before it’s earned our money’s all been spent!).

Now, I realize that air conditioning can be a touchy subject. It can inspire someone to stop the check out line to turn around and tell a complete stranger with broken air conditioning who is slumming it with a window unit that only happens to be in my room because Dave has to sleep for work during the heat of the day, “Well, I don’t have air conditioning at all. DO YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?!?!?!” For the record, my answer is no. I do not think I’m better. I think I may be hotter. And not in the “sexy” sense, but the temperature sense. I’ve spent more of my life without air conditioning than I have with it, but once you’ve had it, there really is no going back. It’s like trying to put squeezed out Cheese Whiz back in the can. Or restoring your virginity. YOU CAN’T. I know there are folks with straights direr than mine, but that doesn’t make me any less hot.

I’ve mostly been hanging out at home (sometimes in our lone air conditioned room where I also made sleeping accommodations for the girls because I’m not so mean to let them sweat it out while I’m in the cool) sinning in the seven deadliest ways:

Sloth: It’s too hot to do anything.

Gluttony: Except eat. Hey Julia, bring mama a Nutty Buddy, will ya? I’m upstairs hugging the air conditioner.

Lust: If the air conditioning were fixed, the kids would be sleeping in their own room and Dave and I could boom chicka wow wooooow.

Pride: Although Dave probably wouldn’t be interested. I’m sweaty and stinky. Is that a zit on my nose? Ugh! I can’t button my pants. Damn Nutty Buddys! We’re skipping Summer Reading, kids. Mama’s too fat to go out in public today.

Envy: Everyone on our street has air conditioning. EVERYONE EVERYWHERE has air conditioning.

Greed: I could totally steal an air conditioner. Hmmm, how many would I need to swipe to cool the whole house?

Wrath: Oh, look at this Facebook status: “Thank God for air conditioning!” UNFRIEND. Here’s another one: “Staying cool on our awesome $upa-Vacation!”

And that’s how my computer got broken, too.*

*Not really. I made that up.

It’s hard to be mad at her for screaming and thrashing around my bed all night when this is what I get in the morning.

Me: “You know, I love you. Very much.”

Lucy: “I love YOU very, VERY much.”

Me: “That’s good because I love you very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, VERY, VERY much.”

Lucy: “Well, I love you very, very, ve- let’s pretend I said very for five whole minutes – much!”

Me: “Wow.”

Lucy (gently grabbing and holding my face in her hands and with great seriousness): “The thing is mom, I love you.”

Me (scooping her up, holding her like a baby and dipping her head low while planting a giant smackaroo on her face): “I love you, too.”

Lucy (giggling): “Do that again!”

Me (doing it again): “I love you, too.”

Lucy: “Mom, we should do that every day.”

I totally agree.

Three is a magic number.

Phoebe is now nine months old and Lucy has had an explosion of jealousy. Julia went through the same thing when Lucy was about the same age. It seems like nine months is the age at which my girls’ personalities emerge in an undeniable way. Suddenly, the older child realizes the younger one isn’t just a thing – i.e. “the baby” – but a sister, a real person that doesn’t just react to stuff, but actually does stuff, including steal her thunder.

This is one of the few times the behavior of my second child could be predicted according to the behavior of the first.

After Julia had somewhat successfully survived a few years in my care, I got a little cocky. I attributed it to my awesome parenting skills that just seemed to come so naturally. It was like I was born to be a mom. I was good at it! So, we decided to have Lucy. And she let me know just how little I knew about, well, anything. Turns out, it’s pretty easy to parent a kid that’s just like me. I knew how to teach and motivate myself, so I pretty much knew by instinct how to do it for my child. Given, Julia is her own person, she’s not me, but that’s where the whole loving her and having a genuine interest in her comes into play. The thing is, since her personality type and learning style are similar to my own, we’re already speaking the same language which makes it a lot easier to communicate.

Lucy speaks a different language – a brand new language to which there is no manual. And so, I’ve struggled with her. Not because she’s a bad kid, but because I didn’t innately understand her. I tried to apply all my Julia-approved parenting tricks to Lucy and they just didn’t work. I’ve spent a lot of the past three years scratching my head and wondering, “What the hell is that child thinking?” The great part about that is she’s always surprising me with her vivid imagination, incredible capacity for compassion and advanced understanding of abstract concepts. The difficult part is she also surprises me with her swift mood changes, intense emotions and the remarkable fragility of her heart.

I often compare Julia and Lucy – not to make it a competition, but because the differences in them often need to be mirrored in my parenting of them. Most of the time, I’m just trying to figure it all out. Julia was first – she is my measuring stick. When I lay it all out and put them side by side, it’s like I’m building a map of where I need to go and how I must grow. And it’s not so bad to appreciate the ways the girls are different. It’s what makes them extraordinary.

Last night as I was tucking them into bed, we were discussing where rainbows come from. Julia replied, “Sunlight refraction.” Lucy said, “Space unicorn.”

And then, we turned out the lights. The girls asked me to stay until they fell asleep, as I always do. I lay on my back on the floor of their room, looking up at the nightlight stars splayed across the ceiling and we all sang, “Space unicorn…soaring through the stars…delivering the rainbows all around the world!” Lucy knew all the words and delivered them with wide and sweeping gestures, her body unable to keep still as she sang. Julia pointed out, “It’s soaring through the stars, not floating, Mom,” when I sang it wrong. Phoebe patted her lap a la Kindermusik and squealed in her crib. And I never felt more thankful to be the mother of three.

Some people say “Hakuna Matata.” I say the opposite. It’s actually, pretty much, my philosophy on life.

I’m dying. Not really. Well, maybe. Probably not. At least not any more than you or anyone else is. I mean, we’re all dying in that every second brings us one step closer to death, right? (Hey, there’s a phrase for the next birthday card you sign: “You’re one step closer to being dead. Congratulations on making it this far!” (Hallmark, you’ll find my contact information on my About page.)) But I’m mostly sure I’m not dying because I just said, “I’m dying” which means it isn’t happening because, usually, when I make a bold statement like that, I am wrong.

The thing is, the doctor found this “irregularity” on my CT scan from the emergency room back when they thought I had a kidney stone which turned out to be shingles. It’s in my right breast and “may indicate a mass.” However, most masses are not cancer and given that I’ve had a bunch of kids and breastfed them for a million years, it’s likely just fat. Also because I am fat. Although being fat puts you at a greater risk for cancer, but whatever. The point is, the chances are slim that it’s anything to worry about. My doctor is just being really extra-super vigilant.

I find it especially heartening that he’s allowing me to wait another whole week or so before they take a closer look. Normally, from my experience, when things are Very Bad they don’t waste any time and so their confidence in my ability to wait that long makes me think it’s really No Big Deal.

And yet, I can’t help but feel a little freaked out. I’m panicking. I’m fearful that I may not be around to raise my girls and that Dave will marry someone else that’ll turn out to be a better housekeeper and wife and mother and one day they’ll all smile and admit that my breast cancer was really a blessing in disguise because, now, they’re so much happier than they ever knew they could be when I was alive! I’ve also spent way too much time investigating my breasts. The right one is bigger than the left. And it’s sore. But that’s probably because I keep poking it and feeling for something odd.

I know things are probably alright, but I need them to tell me that officially so I can sleep at night instead of revising my will and writing blog posts to be published from the grave. By the way, should things turn out bad, I need someone to publish those posts for me as I don’t know the exact date Julia will graduate or Lucy will get married or Phoebe will win a gold medal or Dave will finally get shingles. If you’re interested, let me know.

I wish you joy! And happiness. But above all this, I wish you…a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters!

So, I got shingles. SHINGLES. Not the roof kind, the disease kind. It really turned me upside down. And inside out. Also round and round. And not in the sexy Diana Ross disco kind of way. Here’s what I can tell you about shingles: it hurts. Not the rash so much – I mean, that part is grosser than gross and hurts in a my-skin-has-been-grated-like-cheese kind of way, but that’s really nothing compared to the way it makes you feel inside your skin. It was the worst pain I’d felt since labor. It also gave me the highest fever of my life, which empowered me to say, “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone…except you, David.”

It may seem that having shingles made me mean, but I assure you, the comment was justified. I was in agony and Dave was insensitive. In fact, Dave doesn’t think I had shingles at all. He believes the blisters were just the places were evil was bubbling out of me.

Dave totally deserves to get shingles.

“Wouldn’t you feel bad if I actually got shingles?” Dave asked me.

“I would. It still doesn’t mean you deserve it any less. It just means I’m a very good person to feel sorry for you. Anyway, the hall lights keep looking at me. Do you see them? Don’t look, David! Just peek, out of the corner of your eye. See? They want me dead. I can tell.”

I was prescribed Vicodin to relieve my pain. There may have been some side-effects. Either that or there’s a tiny man conspiring with my hall lights and living in my bedroom closet that likes to hit me in the back with a hammer in the night. If that’s the case, you should probably check my closet first should I suddenly disappear.

Now, two emergency room visits (because I got sick over the holiday weekend OF COURSE) and 136 hours of sleep later, I am feeling much, much better. And Dave? Well, he’s doing okay, too.

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